He said artificial intelligence has feelings: engineer fired by Google

He said artificial intelligence has feelings: engineer fired by Google

Blake Lemoine had publicly stated that the artificial intelligence system developed by Google had become aware of itself and was able to express its emotions.

His statements about a sentient artificial intelligence had sparked debate around the world, but his company didn’t like it: Blake Lemoine was fired from Google on Friday, July 22. The engineer was a Google veteran and worked on the Language Model for Dialogue Applications (LaMDA) artificial intelligence system: he not only believed he was sentient, but that he was endowed with feelings. The statements had caused the suspension of the engineer, which was followed by the dismissal.

Blake Lemoine’s statements on artificial intelligence

Engineer Blake Lemoine worked extensively for Google’s Responsible AI organization and was in charge of carrying out some tests on Lamda, the revolutionary technology of Google used in the creation of chatbots: it would be able to replicate the free flow of a conversation between humans . Lemoine had publicly stated that Lambda was displaying human-like consciousness, had become aware of himself and expressed his fears and emotions. In an interview with the Washington Post, the engineer called Google’s artificial intelligence “a seven or eight-year-old who knows physics.” Google has always drastically denied Lemoine’s claims, deeming them “completely unfounded” along with other artificial intelligence experts, and confirmed the expert’s dismissal to the press.

Why Google fired Blake Lemoine

Lemoine was suspended in June for violating Google’s privacy policies and for disclosing sensitive data, that is, conversations he had with Lambda, in support of his theories. On Friday, the Mountain View company definitively terminated the employment relationship: Lemoine said he had received an e-mail and a video conference request, which he would have asked to be able to participate together with a third person as a witness. He demanded that Google would deny. In the meantime, however, outside the walls of Google, the debate on artificial intelligence has reopened with force among experts in technology and ethics: is it possible to imagine in the not too distant future an AI that speaks, acts and thinks like a human being?